Is Ash Wood Good For Smoking Meat?

When it comes to smoking meat, the same types of wood always seem to get recommended; Hickory and Oak. And rarely do other woods get a look in when it comes to smoking red meat.

Yet, there are a wide range of hardwoods that can give meat the same — but less intense — flavor as those two aforementioned timbers.

And Ash wood is one such hardwood.

So, in this post, you’ll discover what kind of flavor Ash wood can give to you BBQ. You’ll also learn what you can do to make sure Ash wood doesn’t over-smoke your food.

ash wood for smoking meat

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Which Wood Gives Meat The Strongest Smoky Flavor?

A big fan favorite is Hickory wood. This timber will infuse your food with an intense smoky taste, making it perfect for red meats such as beef.

Another good choice — if you are looking for great flavor — is Oak wood.

Oak won’t give meat quite as strong a taste as Hickory wood. Yet, it’s still plenty strong enough to pair well with brisket and pork.

What About Ash Wood? What Kind Of Flavor Does Smoking Ash Wood Add?

Ash is similar to Oak, in that it is milder than Hickory.

It won’t overwhelm BBQ meat with bitterness, (which can sometimes be a problem when you smoke meat with Hickory). So, if you want a more mild smoky flavor, then Ash wood should be ideal.

But Is It Safe To Use Ash Wood In My Smoker?

Yes, it is, since this hardwood doesn’t contain much pitch or sap in it.

You see, you should avoid smoking meat with wood that contains a lot of tree pitch/sap. That’s because as pitch/sap vaporizes, it will infuse with your food, and ultimately make it taste bad.

This is why Cedar and Pine wood are a poor choice for smoking meat with. Nonetheless, in the case of Ash wood, this tree doesn’t overproduce those resinous substances.

What Is Tree Pitch And Sap? Tree sap is a watery resin that trees produce in order to protect themselves from bug attacks. While tree pitch is a thicker more viscous resin secreted by trees to heal over damaged parts of the tree.

And What Is The Best Wood For Smoking Poultry? Can You Use Ash Wood?

Ash wood is a little too strong for poultry, such as chicken and turkey. You would be better off smoking these meats with an even milder wood.

For example, fruit-bearing trees produce lumber that will add a mild sweet tang to your food.

So, in the case of chicken, and turkey, opt for smoking woods such as Peach, Plum, and Apple wood. These timbers pair well with poultry and even fish.

Can You Mix Ash Wood For Smoking?

Ash wood can be mixed with mild fruit-bearing woods, and you can mix and match it with other timbers to suit your palette.

But, Ash wood is already a fairly mild smoking timber. So, mixing it with other timbers can end up overwhelming Ash woods flavor.

And What Can You Do To Make Ash Wood Smoke Better?

Simplest thing you can do is to give Ash wood time to dry out properly. This is called seasoning, and it involves leaving freshly cut Ash to sit in a low-humidity area for a few months.

The reason why this is important is because freshly cut wood has a lot of water in it. This is called woods ‘moisture content’, and when a tree is first logged, it’s moisture content is 100%.

And at those high content levels, wood will struggle to catch light, let alone burn.

Over time, through seasoning, you can bring that content down low enough (below 20%) for it to burn. What’s more, wood that has a low moisture content won’t ‘over-smoke’. And over-smoking wood is something that can end up making meat taste bitter.

It will take freshly cut Ash wood around 6 to 12 months to season (depending on when the tree was first logged).

Related Post: How To Season Wood (7 Tips)

And How Can You Tell If Ash Wood Is Seasoned Enough To Smoke Meat?

A quick way to check is to simply take a small test piece from your pile of wood chunks. By simply burning that small piece, you’ll quickly be able to see if it produces too much smoke or not.

If that small piece of wood bellows out a lot of smoke, then your pile of Ash wood needs more time to dry out.

To Wrap Up, Here Are The 3 Key Takeaways From This Post…

  • 1). Ash wood gives meat a mild smoky flavor. And it pairs well with red meat, pork, and even fish.
  • 2). You can mix Ash wood with other mild smoking woods, such as Peach, and Apple wood.
  • 3). Always give Ash wood time to season and dry out, before you start using it for smoking meat.

References:

Husbands, A. and Cranford, S., 2019. A material perspective of wood, smoke, and BBQ. Matter, 1(5), pp.1092-1095.